Given Roger Federer's domination of the decade, it's almost frightening to contemplate what other records he would have set had it not been for the emergence of Rafael Nadal, with whom the Swiss shares one of tennis’ greatest-ever rivalries. Since winning their first meeting at the Sony Ericsson Open in 2004, Nadal has established a 13-7 head-to-head lead over Federer, with 16 of those 20 meetings coming in ATP World Tour and Grand Slam championship finals.
Different in so many ways, they nonetheless share an unparalleled will to win that has made for some riveting clashes – none more so than what many fans rate as the greatest match ever, the 2008 Wimbledon final. Nadal has held Federer’s number in three Roland Garros finals, and it looked as though the Swiss would always get his revenge on grass, having denied Nadal in the 2006-07 Wimbledon finals. That was until a rain-interrupted clash that finished in near-darkness at 9:15 p.m., when Nadal prevailed 9-7 in the fifth set of a four-hour, 48-minute match to dethrone the five-time defending champion.
They have played just twice since that epic encounter, with Nadal once more besting Federer over five sets in the 2009 Australian Open final and the Swiss defeating Nadal on clay for just the second time in the final of the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open a few months later.